Presentation to Senate and House Committees Concerning Bingo

 

Presentation to Senate and House Committees Concerning Bingo
Charles "Skip" Armistead 

 

Thank you for allowing me to speak. 

 

Quickly there are fivemajorloopholes with the wording of this bill and a major issue of cost.

 

1) The definition of “electronic bingo” in this bill is so broad that it allows slot machines disguised as bingo.  It even allows for smart phone bingo apps.  Go to Google Images, type in “electronic bingo,” and you’ll see slot machines disguise as bingo.  Slot machines and all forms of electronic devices,especially cell phone apps, are the new crack cocaine of gambling.

 

2)  The phrase “competition among multiple human players” is missing from the definition of bingo in this bill.Nothing in the bill requires players to compete against other live human players. Go to YouTube and type “Electronic Bingo,” you will see slot machines in action.  In one such video, I saw one person play seven times in one minute.  He was playing against a machine, not against any humans. 

 

3) We need to add time limits.  In ourcurrent Constitution, we have a time limit of one event per charity per year approved by our legislature.  If no time limits are added, Tennessee could become like Illinois, which in the 1960’s allowed bingo once a week.  Once electronic bingo was allowed, their time limits became blurred and were eliminated.  Now, Illinois has twenty-four-hour bingo, which has led to slot machines and casinos. 

 

4) There is nothing about the place where bingo is to be played. The only restriction is the games are to benefit public and private schools.  So, anyone providing bingo can also use handheld electronic bingo devices allowing a person to go anywhere and play bingo all day long, especially if smart phones are used, thus risking greater addiction.

 

5) There is nothing that defines the “net proceeds” from bingo.  If I provide bingo games for my school, what defines what are my expenses and what are net proceeds.  This was just one of the issues related to bogus charity bingo events in the 1980’s which resulted in the Rocky Top scandal. 

 

6) Where is the financial support for people who become problem gamblers as a result of playing bingo. 

 

In states that have many forms of gambling, at least two percent of the population are addicted gamblers. Two percent of our current 6,849,144 residents is 136,983.  First, do we want to hurt up to 137,000 people.  Second, the average cost of helping one person with gambling addiction in a residential treatment centers is $27,000 a month.  This translates into $3.7 Trillion just for one month for 137,000 people.  Using outpatient treatment to help problem gamblers, at only $100 per visit for four visits in a month, the cost still would be $55 million for just one month.  Where are we going to get even a fraction of money to help cover a fraction of these new addictions for one year?

 

In Tennessee, we have gone from 0 to at least 22 rehab centers that deal with gambling addiction just because of the lottery?  If we approve this bill, we will needmany more.  Why try solving an opioid crisis in Tennessee while creating additional gambling addiction.  The best way to begin solving a gambling crisis is to not add to the one that exists. 

 

Because of the loop hole that allows slot machines, because there is nothing that restricts bingo to live people in live places with specific time limits, because there is nothing in the bill that defines net proceeds, and because there is nothing in the bill to cover the costs of a wave of new addictions, I encourage you to defeat this bill.

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